Monday, April 9, 2012

'The Passage' by Justin Cronin

Spring Break is over. 

Tomorrow, I'm going back to being on my own to catch up here at home.  My house is a mess.  We had a lot of fun though.  There were eggs galore this weekend, with a total of three Easter egg hunts for me, one to watch, one to create, and one for hunting.  It's a shame that Nick missed the last one because the day was sunny and I had fun wandering all over a couple of acres to find eggs with Teddy in tow. 

I just don't look forward to the quiet that's coming. 

I will have time to listen to my audio book, 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin.  This one's a whopper!  Of 29 disks, I'm only listening to disk four so far.  Can I go through that much material by April 20th, when it's due?  I don't know. 

I've also wondered whether I should keep listening to it.  Oh, it's a good book.  Don't get me wrong.  It's a good book that's going to scare the daylights out of me when it comes to it.  I haven't even gotten to the part where the world falls apart in the story yet.  I know it's going to scare me, yet if I follow too far into the story, it's more frightening for me if I don't finish it.  There it is, this story hung in my brain, stuck at the torturous part, like a record stuck in a groove on a turntable.  Are you even old enough to remember that?  In college, my roommate had a record, 'Stuck in the Middle With You,' that went around and around repeating 'stuck in the middle, stuck in the middle, stuck in the middle' and it was creepy all by itself.  It's worse with a frightening book, like an earworm, those songs that get stuck in your head, only a story in which the images I've created don't resolve because I don't know the end of the story.  My imagination can go down a few dark alleyways, trying to resolve it on it's own, but inevitably, it comes back to that place where I left off in the story.  Yet the author, using his characters, the writing, the setting, is drawing me in.  Should I keep reading? 

The story is about a little girl who is drawn into a government experiment where she never should have been in the first place.  It's always the government, trying to create the perfect soldier or some other clandestine activity, that begins these things, isn't it?  Unfortunately, as I read, I'm imagining a creature similar to the ones in the movie 'I Am Legend' with Will Smith.  I have to tell you that I was terrified by that movie.  I wouldn't take the garbage out after dark for a year.  I know, it's lame, but here's how I've figured out this irrational fear.  People can be terrifying and the scary near-humans in 'I Am Legend' are a metaphor for that.  Almost every day, I walk through country where there are bears, cougar, and coyote.  At dusk, when I'm walking alone with Teddy, people warn me to watch out for them.  I'm not afraid of these animals, though I have a healthy respect for their power and wildness.  If I follow their rules, I'll probably never even see them, let alone be bothered by them. 

No, it isn't animals, but people that scare me.  Not all people either.  Most people are easy, just going about their lives like the rest of us.   Every day, I talk with people at Nick's school, at the grocery store, and at the library.  I love these ordinary people who, like me, are just trying to be happy and find meaning in their lives.  Yet, there is that 1%, the ones who live among us who quietly wreak their havoc on others, usually their own families.  I have known some of those people.  Plus, groups of people can do horrendous things as well.  You don't need me to cite examples in history, or even in contemporary events.  They are everywhere.  That fear of mine, the one that looks irrational, is based on my encounters with these true monsters, the ones with normal-looking faces, but souls that are lunging with teeth bared, my blood dripping from their jaws.  That's why it's going to be hard to finish reading this well-written book.  I think I'll have to do it, to imagine myself beside this girl, fighting back. 

Thank you for listening, jb

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